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Information Architecture Workshop

Last Tuesday, our Project Management team (pictured above, from left to right: Sarah, Jason, Bettina, Steve, Jillian, Brian, and Katie) gathered at Carrboro Creative Coworking to spend a few hours honing our information architecture skills. We had prepared for this session by re-reading Don’t Make Me Think as a group, so our first activity was a ten question quiz on the book. Everyone aced it, of course!

For our first exercise, we broke up into mini teams began planning and prototyping a hypothetical project for rebuilding Symatec’s business site. I chose this site because it’s far larger and more complex than our typical project, and presents some significant architecture problems right away. After an hour or so of discussion, we reviewed each team’s assessment of what aspects of the site needed to be reworked, and how they’d approach doing that. This was a good workout for the group. I was really excited to hear everyone’s great suggestions. The major determination was that the navigation system needed to be consolidated and depend less on interactive tabbed displays that, in some cases, duplicate and rename existing navigation, and in other cases, present an entirely separate system.

Our next exercises involved having each mini team evaluate a currently live client site that they did not work on. This prompted probably the most interesting we had and showed the value of having a fresh set of experienced, critical eyes on a project. Even though there were ample explanations for why some less than optimal decisions were made, each case definitely had easily identifiable areas for improvement. We did the same thing with three prototypes for projects that have already been completed, comparing the prototype to the live site. In this case, the goal was to evaluate both the information architecture decisions made during prototyping, and also the effectiveness of the prototype in communicating the goals and functionality of the site to all parties involved (client, designers, developers, etc.).

As we debriefed from the afternoon, the project managers decided to schedule a weekly review session, where they “trade” prototypes in progress and give each other feedback. They had their first review session this week. PM’s, how did it go?

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